By Catherine Pugh,
Special to the AFRO
On top of choosing the right candidate, voters are being asked to weigh in on changes Maryland needs to make for the better on Nov. 8 in the midterm elections.
From marijuana legalization to the appropriate name of the state’s highest court and the right level of civil penalties, voters are being asked to put on their thinking caps at the polls this year.
The highest profile ballot initiative is the question of pot possession. If approved, marijuana possession of no more than 1.5 ounces, or the equivalent to no more than two cannabis plants would be allowed, effective July 1, 2023. Civil penalties for offenses such as smoking in a public would be set too, ranging from $250 to $500.
Those convicted for possession with the intent to distribute cannabis to petition would have a criminal record expunged three years “after the person satisfies the sentence or sentences.”
The state would establish a Cannabis Public Health Advisory Council to collect data on public health use of cannabis. It will also create a Community Reinvestment and Repair Fund to fund organizations that serve communities affected by previous disproportionate enforcement of marijuana prohibition laws.ine for subsequent offenses.
Of the constitutional questions, voters will be asked to approve an increase in the monetary floor for the right to request a trial in a civil proceeding. The new constitutional amendment would allow a defendant to request a jury trial if the amount in dispute is more than $25,000, instead of the current $15,000 threshold.
Also on the ballot is a question of renaming the state’s highest the Supreme Court of Maryland instead of the Court of Appeals. In addition, the Court of Special Appeals would become the Appellate Court of Maryland.
Voters are also being asked to approve eliminating the election of the Orphan’s Court judge in Howard County and instead requiring the Circuit Court judges to sit on the Orphan’s court.
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